Crack Seal

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As with all paving projects, keeping residents and road users notified and informed of upcoming activities is generally helpful in minimizing confusion, motorist delays, and complaints. Because we don’t want vehicles traveling on the new crack seal until it has cured sufficiently, extra care should be taken to adequately inform the public and other stakeholders regarding this work.  

Notification practices vary from agency to agency and from job to job, but some common forms of notification include one or more of the following:

  • Letters and/or e-mails to all affected parties
  • Hand-delivered notices to properties abutting the project
  • Temporary “No Parking” signs at appropriate intervals on the project
  • Electronic message boards set up in advance of the work taking place
  • Reverse 911 automated telephone messaging to property owners
  • Posting project information on the agency’s website
  • Social media messaging of the upcoming work
  • Conventional media (TV, radio and newspaper) notices

Notification message content also varies, but usually includes the following information to address six basic questions:

  • What? (a brief description of the treatment being applied)
  • Where? (the street names and limits of work for each)
  • When? (the days, dates and hours of work including a proviso for weather or other unforeseen delays)
  • Why? (an explanation that this is a preventive maintenance treatment being installed to cost-effectively extend the life of the pavement and to avoid poor ride conditions)
  • How? (a general sequence of construction events including their potential impacts on travel times and roadway use)
  • Who? (the names of those involved with the project including who to contact with questions)

A thoughtfully conceived and executed notification plan can greatly enhance public satisfaction with pavement preservation projects including crack seal.

General Preparation

There are two main site preparation items for crack sealing:  cleaning cracks and routing cracks (if warranted).   


  • Immediately prior to applying the product, cracks shall be thoroughly cleaned to remove loose particles of grass, grass roots, weeds, dirt, dust, and other deleterious substances.
  • During the cleaning of cracks, the Contractor shall protect against damage to items such as cars, people, driveways, walkways, landscape materials, etc.


  • Producing a rout centered over the crack results in the most uniform bond on both sides of the crack.
  • Routing on one side of the crack is more likely to result in loss of adhesion on the side that was not cut.
  • Rout at least 1/8” (3mm) from each side of the crack. In colder weather climates, such as the Northern United States and Canada, the crack may require a wider reservoir.
  • The reservoir should never be greater than one and one half inches wide (38mm) and never less than 3/8” deep (10 mm). Tire slap may be encountered when the reservoir is greater than 1 inch wide (25mm).
  • The operator should stop if excessive spalling occurs. For example, if the spalling is twice the width of the cut being made, or if the overall cut continuously exceeds one and one half inches wide.
  • If excessive spalling occurs, first inspect the cutters or pins to determine if they are worn and need to be replaced. Second, determine if the appropriate type of cutter is being used for the designed reservoir. Third, the operator should slow down routing operations to see if this causes a decrease in the amount of spalling. 
  • A workmanship issue that sometimes occurs is missing the crack during reservoir cutting.  It is important to inspect the reservoirs, prior to sealant installation, to ensure proper routing or sawing of the cracks. If areas were missed, or areas where the crack is not centered in the reservoir, they should be marked and recut.   
  • When using a random crack saw, if the operator misses the crack or there is spalling along the edge of the crack, there could be asphalt slivers remaining in the crack after the sawing operation.  To address this problem, the crew should have someone follow behind the operator with a chisel and hammer to knock out any asphalt slivers. Once this is done, a light sandblasting should be performed to properly clean the reservoir.
  • Care should be taken when performing sandblasting to comply with health requirements, particularly if using silica sand.